How Ohio Is Won
Many among the landed punditry have been busily prescribing how Kerry or Bush could win Ohio. Who's right? There's really only one way.
Take a pencil and a map of Ohio. Start at Toledo. Draw a line from Toledo, eastward across the southern shore of Lake Erie to Cleveland, then diagonally, passing equidistant between Akron and Youngstown to East Liverpool on the West Virginia border, then along the Ohio River to Steubenville, Marietta, and then start back westard again to Athens. Stop. Your drawing should look like a comma, or a quarter moon.
If you are able to drive through every county on that line without touching Republican ground, Democrats win the state. Period.
It's easy to get caught up in the major D counties along that line - CuyahogaCounty, containing Cleveland, the Democratic mother lode, Lucas County (Toledo), Summit County (Akron), Mahoning & Trumbull Counties (Youngstown area). But as more second tier counties along that line go D, the closer the result gets, and the greater chance for a D victory. The more trouble you have connecting that line with D counties, the likelier it is that an R wins.
You hear so much about Stark County (Canton) and it's predictive value because it doesn't sit on that line precisely...it's just to one side of it. Whichever way Stark goes, that means the other counties straddling the line (which look a lot like Stark County) are trending that way too.
Much is made of Franklin County (Columbus) and Montgomery County (Dayton). Don't be distracted, they aren't predictive so much as a lagging indicator. It has recently become possible for a D to win both Franklin and Montgomery Counties and lose the state. However, if the key line goes solid D blue, nice and thick to both sides, you may carry those two swing counties as gravy.
Watch the candidate schedules. This weekend, Bush and Kerry were in counties bordering or on that line the entire weekend. Plotting their visits, one will find the stops start to fill in along that comma or quarter moon.